It is revealed that there is a plan to hand over the East Container Terminal of Colombo Port, the container operational terminal fully owned by Ports Authority, to an Indian company.
This decision has been taken by the three member committee of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama and Economic Affairs Ministry Consultant R. Paskaralingam.
Minister of Ports Arjuna Ranatunga presented a cabinet paper on 22nd June, 2015 regarding finding a global partner to modernize the terminal and bring it to an internationally-competitive standard. According to this cabinet paper it was proposed that the ‘global partner’ involved in modernizing the jetty would get 49% ownership of the jetty and the Port Authority would get the other 51%.
However, it is revealed that this cabinet paper was altered and on recommendations of the aforesaid committee the Port Authority would have only 15% ownership of the jetty and the rest (85%) would go to the Indian company.
The tender for reconstruction work was to be closed on 20th July but was extended till 31st August to accompany the Indian company. Two other jetties in Colombo Harbour – the N.A.G.T. jetty and C.I.C.T. jetty – have been handed over to a Chinese company and a Japanese company and Ports Authority owns only 15% from each of the jetties. Sri Lanka would lose Colombo Harbour if the East Container Terminal is handed over to an Indian Company and will become only a small share holder.
There are 9900 employees in Colombo Harbour and if it is handed over to an Indian Company the terminal would be filled with Indian workers and other companies too would follow the Indian example. If this happens Sri Lankan workers will be confronted with unemployment.